Spring 2010 was cold and wet in Philo and our vines reacted by setting one of Navarro's smallest Pinot crops. Summer was pleasantly cool from ocean breezes and as a result, the vines were late to begin ripening their fruit. Three days of heat near the end of September sped up ripening, which was followed by three weeks of glorious weather: daily highs approaching 80°F which the vines loved, and evening low temperatures about 45°F which helped the grapes retain good acidity. Each of thirty plus vineyard sites was harvested by hand at night until we ran into some rot in our upper vineyards from the heavy ocean fog that had cloaked the higher elevations every night. In order for the pickers to single out rotten clusters, we harvested in the daylight with two crews; one crew made the first pass removing all the clusters with rot and a second followed, harvesting the sound fruit. A heat spike in mid-October brought the lengthy Pinot harvest to a dramatic end. Each site was fermented as a separate lot, then aged as a unique portion, in French oak barrels. Forty percent of the barrels were new and another 40% had been used only one season, so there is plenty of oak to back up the fruit.
Navarro's Pinot barrels being assembled in Beaune, France. The oak staves are straight; to bend them into the required curve, the partially assembled barrel is placed over an oak fire to make the wood less rigid. The length of time spent on the fire determines how much "toast" (charring) occurs on the inside of the barrel; light charring adds toasty notes and with heavy charring, smoky notes. We've learned from thirty eight years of experience that a low toast level is the best match for Navarro's Philo Pinot.
We are picky about the coopers that make our barrels in France, but we are just as choosy about the location of the oak trees from which our barrel staves are fashioned. The top stave is from the Limousin forests where the annual growth is rapid as you can see by the width of the rings. The bottom stave is from the cold Vosges Mountains, where the trees grow more slowly. The wider the ring, the stronger the oak flavors. We aged this wine in our favorite cooper's barrels for eleven months; in order not to overpower the fruit, Navarro's Pinot barrels are made from tight grain wood keeping the oak flavors restrained while still providing a firm backbone to the wine.
The fruit and oak are so harmonious that nothing jars the sensual Pinot fruit wrapped in a gossamer veil of Asian spices and vanilla. The sparse harvest resulted in the tiniest amount of Méthode à l'Ancienne being bottled since 1988; please don't miss out! For over the last three decades, we have never had a Thanksgiving dinner without Navarro Pinot Noir gracing the table. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.